#ShareTheSpotlight: Sangya Project's Shweta Sangtani on social taboos and navigating the sex-tech startup space

Shweta Sangtani, co-founder, Sangya Project shares the spotlight with Aditi Gupta for the latter's work with Menstrupedia.

By  Storyboard18Mar 18, 2024 4:10 PM
#ShareTheSpotlight: Sangya Project's Shweta Sangtani on social taboos and navigating the sex-tech startup space
Shweta Sangtani shares that in 2023, a report by National Association of Software and Services Company (NASSCOM) on India’s startup ecosystem stated that only 18 percent of companies have at least one woman founder or co-founder.

Founding a startup is simultaneously the most exciting and the most fearsome thing that some of us have done. Is that because it involves pinning our hopes and dreams on a singular belief that we possess and going for it with blinders on? Partly, yes. But a huge part of this challenge also comes from navigating this space as a woman.

In 2023, a report by National Association of Software and Services Company (NASSCOM) on India’s startup ecosystem stated that only 18 percent of companies have at least one woman founder or co-founder.

This battle gets an additional layer added to it when you are a woman founder dealing with a topic that is a social taboo. As a founder of a sex-tech startup that also creates community-driven sex ed resources, I know what that pushback can look like.

When I came across Aditi Gupta and her work with Menstrupedia, what I felt was nothing short of awe. Society as we know it is considerably different from what it was back in 2012, when Menstrupedia began its journey to educate people about menstruation by way of games and comics. It isn’t easy to deal with the daily apprehensions that one faces while fighting the hard fight of breaking generations of stereotypes and repression.

To do this when the social landscape was far more regressive and resistant to change than it is now, is inspiring to say the least. More than that, to be able to take personal experiences where one faced extreme prejudice and discrimination and to turn it into something so beautiful for others is something I aspire to do with my own company. It is people who have walked before you on the path that you’re trudging along, that guide the way after all.

When we founded Sangya Project, our aim was to simply provide Sex Education for adults on our Instagram page. Apprehensive about how this would be perceived in a world where taking charge of your own body is looked down upon, especially for women, we were pleasantly surprised by the love we received from the community we built. It helped us navigate the sort of challenges one wouldn’t face if the sector was something ordinary such as clothes or jewellery. It was this love and support that helped us hold on to the idea of making sexual wellness a daily part of all our lives when we would very often get rejected by banks, payment gateways, investors and even our packaging vendors.

It was also this same love and support that made us believe that we are more than capable of manufacturing pleasure products right here in India and for us to focus solely on that goal till we became the first manufacturers of an Indian made intimate massager. Somehow the challenge, which was the absolute lack of dialogue around sexual wellness coupled with the love we received for the work we do, ended up being the very thing that brought us our greatest achievement so far– being the only manufacturers of personal massagers in India.

So here’s to all the women founders who believe in themselves enough to take that chance, who walk the path seldom walked to make sure that the next generation do not face the taboos and the discrimination we faced on a daily basis, who inspire by simply existing and putting their heads down to work. Please keep going. You never know whom you inspire into joining you in your vision to build a society that is more compassionate and supportive of our needs.

Note to readers: Storyboard18's Share The Spotlight aims to highlight inspirational stories of women who continue breaking barriers and setting the precedent for other women marketers, entrepreneurs and communication specialists.

The initiative aims to kick off a movement where people from across these communities step up and share their spotlight with other women.

Share The Spotlight calls on us all to come out and share words of praise and encouragement for each other, appreciating and acknowledging the contributions of so many people who make businesses, brands and workplaces better. Learn and understand how to face challenges and seize opportunities while bringing along others on the path to progress.

This is just the beginning of a long journey to spotlight individuals who are empowering others and bringing change and growth for all. Together we rise.

First Published on Mar 18, 2024 4:07 PM

More from Storyboard18

How it Works

Positive budgetary measures for rural to increase advertising spends by 15 percent in H2

Positive budgetary measures for rural to increase advertising spends by 15 percent in H2

Special Coverage

Union Budget 2024: Major tax revisions set to boost gaming and esports sector

Union Budget 2024: Major tax revisions set to boost gaming and esports sector

Special Coverage

Union Budget 2024 announcements | TRAI must pivot to market-led regulation for broadcasting sector

Union Budget 2024 announcements | TRAI must pivot to market-led regulation for broadcasting sector

Special Coverage

Bengaluru emerges as country's 'talent positive' location amidst job reservation bill fiasco

Bengaluru emerges as country's 'talent positive' location amidst job reservation bill fiasco

Special Coverage

Budget 2024: Experts push for job creation by allocating funds for education, upskilling, PPP model

Budget 2024: Experts push for job creation by allocating funds for education, upskilling, PPP model

How it Works

EXCLUSIVE: Film exhibitors demand expanding lower tax slab, revision of regulatory framework

EXCLUSIVE: Film exhibitors demand expanding lower tax slab, revision of regulatory framework

Special Coverage

Radio sector demands GST revision | India’s last female esports roster shut

Radio sector demands GST revision | India’s last female esports roster shut

How it Works

EXCLUSIVE: Radio sector demands de-linking NOTEF, GST revision, and mandate for 'radio on mobile'

EXCLUSIVE: Radio sector demands de-linking NOTEF, GST revision, and mandate for 'radio on mobile'